|Leland Hotel/Haverty's Furniture
227 N. Tryon Street
Dr. William H. Huffman
The Leland Hotel building, later the home of Haverty's Furniture for
many years, has been an important part of Charlotte's social, commercial
and architectural scene since the turn of the century. Strategically
located in the second block north of the Square on Tryon, the building
is, in many ways, a microcosm of the development, growth and changes of
Charlotte as a whole. The lot upon which the building stands was
originally the home place of John March Springs (1834-1866) and his
wife, Elizabeth Caroline Stafford Springs (1834-1919), who were married
in the bride's home county of Cabarrus in 1855. 1 The couple
settled in Charlotte, where John, a native of the city, became a
successful clothing dealer, 2 and they built a fine house in
the 200 block of North Tryon next to the Tryon Street M. E. Church and
its parsonage about 1858. 3 When the guns of war sounded six
years later, John Springs joined the 53rd North Carolina Infantry as a
second lieutenant,and was later promoted to captain and Assistant
Quartermaster of the regiment. The 53rd saw action in some of the
heaviest fighting of the war, including Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and
other battles, and sustained many casualties while earning numerous
commendations. 4 Although he made it back from the war, John
Springs suffered an untimely death about a year after hostilities were
over in 1866. Elizabeth Springs, who was left with five small children
to raise, determinedly carried on with singular success, as related in
the Charlotte Observer in 1919:
Mrs. Springs was a woman of exceptional strength of mind and
character. She took up the burden of the care of a large family after
her husband's death and throughout the years bravely faced the trials
and troubles that people of the South endured in the days immediately
following the war.
Her children, indeed, rise to call her blessed, for she was an
unusual woman, a woman of fine mentality, of rare poise, ability, and
phenomenal strength of character. 5
Of the four girls and one boy Mrs. Springs nurtured to adulthood, one
of them, Cora, married one of Charlotte's well-known citizens, Wade
Hampton Harris (1858-1935) in 1884. In 1879, Harris joined the
Charlotte Observer as a reporter, and six years later started the
Charlotte News, where he remained until returning to the Observer
company in 1894. He served as editor of the Charlotte Evening
Chronicle, the Observer's afternoon daily, until rejoining
the Observer and becoming its editor-in-chief in 1912, a position
he held until his death in 1935. 6
About 1895, Mrs. Springs began to lose her eyesight, and in the next
several years she moved in with the Harrises at 210 N. Church Street,
and plans were made to develop the home place for commercial property in
the growing town. 7 Thus in March, 1899, Elizabeth Springs
borrowed ten thousand dollars to use for construction of a three-story
brick building on the site, and in November of that year she borrowed an
additional three thousand to complete the project which was then
underway. 8 Finished about spring, 1900, the handsome
building was a worthy addition to Charlotte's growing commercial center
in the town of 18,000. It was known as the Leland Hotel, which occupied
the second and third floors (entry was through a central portal and up
the stairs), and on the street level were four storefronts, two on
either side of the hotel entrance.
The proprietor of the hotel was Henry Clay Williams (1853-1916), a
Charlotte native who was as well-liked as he was well-known in the city.
As a newspaper article of the time expressed it,
He was an apostle of good cheer as well as kindness. Cheerful,
pleasant, sympathetic, he was a good companion, welcome in any
He loved little children, and their intuitive love for him was
tribute supreme to the good that was within him.
Henry Williams was a true friend...He was known to everybody in
Charlotte, being especially popular with the men uptown and by whom he
will especially be missed. 9
No doubt H. C. Williams' personality and style contributed a great
deal to the success of the Leland Hotel in turn-of-the-century
Although there is presently no direct proof, circumstantial evidence
suggests that the architect of the building may have been
Charles Christian Hook (1870-1938), one of the city's leading
designers. C. C. Hook practiced architecture in the city from the
1890's, when he designed homes for the Charlotte Consolidated
Construction Company (4 C's) in the new
streetcar suburb of
Dilworth, until his death in 1938. From his drawing board came a
number of fine structures, including the old city hall, the Charlotte
Woman's Club and the James B. Duke mansion in
Myers Park. 10 It is evident that Henry Williams and C.
C. Hook were close friends, since Hook was a witness to Williams' will,
11 and also gave the information to the county Register of
Deeds for Williams' death certificate. 12 The architect and
his wife were also in the official funeral party accompanying the
hotelier's remains to Salisbury for burial. 13 Additionally,
Hook's office was just down the street in the same block of North Tryon
toward the Square from the Leland. 14
Over the years, the changes in the occupants of the storefronts and
later, the building as a whole, reflected the changing character of
Charlotte itself. In 1903, the first year all the stores appear to have
been leased, a stroller coming from the Square along the sidewalk next
to the as yet unpaved Tryon Street would first encounter J. Henry Hahn's
ice cream and confectionery store. Next came Z. A. Hovis' undertaking
parlor, then the Leland entrance, followed by the Singer Sewing Machine
Company, and ending with W. M. Rhyne's grocery. Looking up, the stroller
could see some guests of the Leland enjoying the sun on the balcony that
stretched between the two bay windows on the second floor.
From about 1905 to 1912, the Mecklenburg Furniture Company occupied
the spot where Hovis was, which had moved into the former Rhyne's
grocery location. When the automobile began to come on the city scene in
1912, two of the stores were rented by tire companies: Diamond Rubber
Co. of New York, and B. F. Goodrich. By 1917, two of the storefronts
(227-229) were occupied by an auto company, Haynes, which by 1920 was
taken over by American Motors, "distributors of Birch Autos and Vim
Trucks." At the north end of the building was a Chinese laundry, Geo.
Lum (1914-20). 15 Following the death of Mrs. Springs in
1919, the heirs decided to sell the building to the Burwell-Walker Co.
(after 1921, the Burwell-Harris Co.), the local American Motors
franchisee for $100,080. 16 Armistead Burwell, Jr.,
president, and James P. Harris, vice-president, undertook extensive
reconstruction of the building to convert it entirely to a Nash
dealership. 17 The boom times of the Twenties were good times
as well for the automobile business, and in 1928, Burwell-Harris
borrowed $175,000 from Metropolitan Life Insurance to finance an
expansion of their business, including the construction of a three-story
addition to the building in the rear, which nearly doubled the floor
apace. 18 Unfortunately for them as for so many others, it
was impossible to foresee the financial calamities of the impending
Great Depression, and in June, 1932, Metropolitan foreclosed the loan
and took possession of the property. 19 Although he lost
ownership of the location, Burwell did not give up easily, and in
August, 1932, he organized a new firm, Burwell Nash Co., which leased
the premises until 1936. 20
In that year, Haverty Furniture Company replaced the car dealership
as the tenant, they having moved from their 7th Street location
(occupied since 1928). Haverty's is a regional furniture chain, started
in 1885, and based in Atlanta. In 1938, Clarence Haverty, president of
the company, bought the property from Metropolitan through his companion
real estate arm, Capital Realty and Investment Company of Georgia, and
the next year sold it to the newly-incorporated Haverty Furniture of
Charlotte. During their operation from that location of over forty
years, Haverty's made two alterations to the facade to modernize the
In the present renovation, the site is returning to recover some if
its past while at the same time being adapted to a modern future which
is once again appropriate for the times. The work will uncover and
restore some of the original architectural features of the Leland Hotel
and Nash dealership, and will house the law firm of Helms, Mulliss and
Johnson and other offices. 22 Thus the structure will
continue to play an active role in the commercial and professional life
of the city, while recapturing some of the flavor of a earlier era in
the heart of Charlotte's city center.
1 N.C. Marriage Bonds, Grooms, "Springs, John M.", 22
2 1860 U.S. Census, Mecklenburg County, p. 120.
3 Deed Book 3, p. 856, 24 Nov. 1857.
4 Walter Clark, ed., Histories of the Several Regiments
and Battalions from North Carolina (Goldsboro: State of North
Carolina, 1901); III, pp. 255-61.
5 Charlotte Observer, Dec. 8, 1919, p. 10.
6 Ibid., Sept. 14, 1935, p. 1.
7 See note 5; Charlotte City Directories, 1900 ff.
8 Deed Book 133, p. 490, 6 March 1899; Deed Book 143, p.
38, 20 Nov. 1899.
9 Charlotte News, Aug. 21, 1916, p. 3.
10 Survey and Research Report, Seaboard Air Line Railroad,
Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, undated.
11 Will Book V, p. 357, dated 20 Aug. 1916.
12 Certificate of Death, Book 9, p. 909, 17 Dec. 1919.
13 See note 9.
14 Charlotte City Directory, 1897/8, p. 117.
15 Ibid., 1902-1920.
16 Deed Book 417, p. 378, 5 Jan. 1920; Record of
Corporations, Book 6, p. 595.
17 Charlotte City Directory, 1921, p. 902.
18 Deed Book 684, p. 177, 27 March 1928.
19 Deed Book 818, p. 215, 17 June 1932.
20 Record of Corporations, Book 13, p. 519; Charlotte City
21 Deed Book 944, p. 467, 28 March 1938; Deed Book 984, p.
143, 27 June 1939.
22 The partners of the law firm own the property as the
227 North Tryon Street Associates.